Experts Provide Updates on Green Claims and Certification Programs

April 12th, 2012 by Editor

From left to right, Arlene Stewart and Tracy Rogers spoke during Fenestration Day on green topics.

Fenestration Day attendees received first-hand knowledge on green industry information this morning. Arlene Stewart with AZS Consulting, who is known as an energy expert in the industry, talked to attendees about what to do when it comes to making green claims. She was followed by Tracy Rogers with Quanex Building Products and a member of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), who gave an overview of the association’s green certification program that is currently being finalized.

When it comes to green claims, Stewart told her audience, “Whoever is marketing the material has to have substantiation before the ad runs. When it comes to communicating, any qualifications or disclosures have to be clear. It’s what you don’t say that can get you into trouble.”

Speaking of the companies who were cited recently by the FTC, she said they had caveats, but the consumer didn’t know that.

“If you make a broad claim you better have broad proof,” she said. “It’s not just about the letter, it’s about the spirit and intent. That’s where you will get into trouble and that is when you need to talk to your lawyers.”

She explained that in one of the FTC cases they did qualify the claim, but it was still found deceptive.

“Gorell—a seven-time Energy Star winner–and they were still cited by the FTC,” said Stewart.

She also noted that eco labels have to be qualified.

“More scary stuff–individuals can be held accountable,” she said. “Make it easy for the targeted consumer to come to the right conclusion. If you can do a focus group do one. Find out how a consumer perceives this.”

She added, “As long as you define it, you should be OK.”

Rogers spoke next about the green certification program on which AAMA has been working. He explained that they’re not yet set on the name of it, but it may have more to do with sustainability rather than green.

“Four years ago this work started,” said Rogers. “AAMA thought eventually groups would look at windows and since AAMA focuses on windows the group decided to look at a program. It is intended to be performance-based versus prescriptive.”

He said there are some areas where it is more pass-fail, such as recyclability, etc. It is also material neutral.

“First we thought we could do this in six months. Four years later … we realized there were differences in residential/commercial, etc.,” said Rogers. “So there is residential, commercial and skylights. All based on similar attributes, but with slight differences.”

According to Rogers, the residential portion is the farthest along. He noted that performance attributes include insulating glass durability, structural performance, heating and cooling, energy efficiency, air infiltration, etc. Some features include recycled content, renewable content, volatility of applied finishes and environmental management.

One attendee asked if AAMA was looking at transportation.

“That won’t be the scope of this program,” said Rogers. Stewart mentioned that LEED is revisiting the transportation issue, which includes, for example, how far the product is going.

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